March 19, 2014

gardener of hearts

for seven months i have been quietly taking in Nairobi, unable to express the journey of connecting with the Oneness of the human race, in all that pertains to experiences, emotions, circumstances, difficulties and joy.  my life is completely full and yet ever-evolving into absorbing more and more people and activities into our lives.
World Religion Day devotional

it feels like the world is always opening itself with more and new wonderful opportunities to serve, love, readjust the lines that keep people socially separated, and most of all learn how to be a better human being.

with every new soul who crosses my path i am treading a path of justice, letting my heart burn with loving-kindness, and thinking of a way to be of service to him/her..

nairobi is a city in which to thrive.  many kenyans are involved in social action.  many ngo's are here with good intentions and high-minded endeavors.  many inter-racial couples and adoptions lend to it feeling progressive and integrative.  and many hard-working, humble souls imbue our lives with radiant acquiescence.

singing at the Baha'i Center
i haven't quite found the words in all these months to depict my own experience here.  it's definitely different than living in Cape Town or Accra yet in some ways it's the same -- because i am the same:  i love the heart of African people.  i look into eyes and see the Beauty of God emanating therefrom.  i see worn shoes and shoes that do not fit properly while observing the long journey taken each day.  i feel the pain while listening to story after story of people being orphaned at a young age.  i am never tired of seeing someone's face light up when greeted with a simple 'Jambo!' and at the same time i am disturbed that they are still surprised that an mzungu (white person) is greeting them.  and i desire for every child to grow up knowing they are 'a mine rich in gems of inestimable value'..

Alvin & his little brother who came for a devotional
we were living in an area of Nairobi for the first 6 months.  we used to walk our children to the school bus each morning at 6:30am.  we greeted people in kiSwahili.  at first they were skeptical and a bit unsure of our intention -- how could we be so friendly and happy they must have wondered.  this is true of the children as well.  but after a short time they knew we were genuine and they, too, started greeting us, sometimes even before we greeted them.  after a couple of months we would stop and meet people, getting to know their names, walking with them if we were going the same direction, and sometimes hugging each other with great warmth and joy.

sometimes i brought a little something to give the kids, like a notebook or a pencil.  they were so grateful and received it in a humble manner.  once we knew their names well they welcomed our affection and even looked forward to seeing us!  when we told them we were moving they were saddened.  by this time i had one of the boys' mom's number and they had come to our home for a devotional.  they expressed hope of seeing us again on 'their side' of the city -- we hope to cross their paths when helping a youth with his proposed service activity in the area where they live, Kawangware, one of the slums of Nairobi.

before we moved, i coordinated with the kids to come by during Ayyam-i-Ha to receive some cookies.  they didn't stay for a visit but were happy to come inside the compound and take some homemade cookies with them on their long walk home.   one of the boys who came by is an orphan.  he lives with his older brother.  i had noticed early on how torn his school sweater was. i let him know that when he came for cookies he could leave his sweater with me to mend and that i would give it to him the next morning.  the next morning i caught up with him before he was about to pass the bus stop.  he was indescribably happy to receive his mended sweater.  he kept turning around as he walked ahead; we continued to wave goodbye to him.  it was the last time we saw him before moving.  i have received sms's from 2 other kids since we've moved.  each time they want to know when we are coming to visit them.

i am still settling in to the new neighborhood.  i haven't met any local children but am developing relationships with neighbors and workers in the area.  life for me is about building community, thinking of 'rendering some service to every member of the human race' and taking care of my family.  it is also about planting seeds, both in the earth and in human hearts -- seeds that are destined to sprout and create more beauty in this world.  i'm concerned just as much about the soil of the human heart as i am mother earth upon which our feet tread.  i hope in time to be working with children, visiting their families' homes, having more gatherings in our home, and nurturing the seed of the human heart with the soil of my love.  i feel like a gardener of hearts..

spiritual bonds ~ holiday in SA

spending time with friends is a source of pure delight for the soul when the relationships have a spiritual foundation and the ways in which time is spent are noble and free of things that are unworthy of our station as a soul.

this sums up how our time in South Africa was recently spent.  we returned after a 3 year absence to see friends with whom we developed familial and spiritual bonds.  it was pure joy to be reunited.

after mingling with everyone in the two townships where they now live, we took a few of them with us each day so that we could be together in a different environment from which they live.  six days later when we relocated to a rented, unoccupied house, we had decided to ask their parents if 5 of them could stay with us for the rest of our holiday.  with their parents' approval, we spent the last 9 days of our holiday with this group of young souls who are like our sons. 
we lived together, cooked together, ate together, cleaned up together, prayed together, listened to music together, danced together, played games together, went on outings together, and completed a study book together!  for our family, and for them, it was a long-awaited dream come true.

a photo display of our holiday this past December/January:

we always love to do the water balloon toss with the kids

their first time up in a ferris wheel

running for a pass playing American football with 'Coach'

pyramid on the very windy beach at Camps Bay

cooking together

mac cheese, fried fish & salad

playground in Greenpoint
roasting marshmallows

brotherly love

Mphati and 'Coach' at Boulder Beach
hangin' out after playing ball..someone always on a cell phone!

Sami & Bintyi on the field in Century City

best of friends..

hanging out at the ice skating rink

Linda singing 'I'm Building Me a Home' in Malmesbury

everyone loves Coach
Dyami showing his card trick at the V&A Waterfront food court

such a beautiful day at Boulder Beach by the penguins

working on a rap together in English and Xhosa

in front of the Christmas tree at the V&A Waterfront

unity in diversity :)

playing Pictionary

rotating sleeping together..on the floor

intensive studying book 1

exhausted and smushed in our small rental car together (all 7 of them)
recreating the pose that most of us did together 3 years ago

true brotherhood
very happy to be together at the Abedian home
carrying the washing machine to the outside basin to rinse out the water

at a movie theater to watch Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom together

playing American football on the Sea Point promenade

last day together
moments like these are eternal imprints on our souls.  we will discover the patterns we've woven in our hearts with each other in the worlds beyond.  there is nothing that matters more to me in this life than establishing spiritual bonds of friendship.  praise be to God for these moments..